Many years ago at an agribusiness meeting I listened to a fellow from the Northeast Regional Climate Center discuss weather forecasting. He said that up to 48 hours their forecasting accuracy had improved a lot, but much beyond that it was just about as accurate as a coin toss!
Right now I’d take 50% accuracy, even for 24-48 hour weather forecasting. This area is in a drought, with about 2″ of rain in the past two months, so we follow weather forecasts more closely than normal. Time and time again we’ve had a 60% chance of rain in the forecast, and time and time again we wind up on the “bad” 40% side of the percentages. And with today’s reliance on computers, you’d think there would be some uniformity or agreement between the several forecasting services. But nooo: Yesterday morning Intellicast predicted an 80% chance of mid-day rain with over half an inch expected. NOAA forecast a 20-40 chance of rain with 1/4″ or less total. Weather.com, on the other hand, predicted only a 5% chance. We got a sprinkle about 9 AM, not enough to even wet the pavement, and my mid-day it was sunny, hot and almost cloudless. For the last month or so, for any of these services a coin toss percentage would be a big improvement.
Crop conditions vary widely across the North Country, not unexpected since a significant portion of our summer precipitation comes as hit-or-miss thunderstorms. This summer they’ve hit the eastern portion of Northern NY and missed the western portion. Crops at Miner Institute (Chazy) are excellent, while crops around here are burning up though there’s still some decent-looking early-planted corn. What’s really taken a hammering are grass fields, many of which have gone dormant since the first crop was harvested, and as warm as the soil is even a good rain won’t bring them back this summer. This is a very poor summer for shallow-rooted crops.